Mom Life

Israel: Highlights From Our Trip

Oh, friends.  We really did have the opportunity of a lifetime.  Every single moment of our trip to Israel with my husband’s company was new, exciting, and full.  And I am really excited to share some highlights with you.  I wish that I could walk you through every experience, but it would be just too much to share every detail.  Instead, I will list all of the sites that we visited as well as highlight a few pictures from each day.  {I must mention that all of these pictures were taken by me and I have not made any alterations, such as filters to them.}

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Day One:

We departed on our first flight after setting our kids up with grandparents.  A fairly short layover in Newark and we were ready to board our flight to Tel Aviv.  The flight was 10 1/2 hours and friends, it was a rough one.  We weren’t exhausted enough to fall asleep for too long.  Upon arrival, customs was easy, we grabbed our luggage, and had a two hour bus ride north to Tiberius.  This is where I pretty much passed out.  Bus seats recline quite a bit further than plane seats.  And well, after being up for over 24 hours, there was nothing that was going to keep me awake for long.  In our free time at our hotel in Tiberius, we enjoyed sitting along the Sea of Galilee.

Day 2:

We took a Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee and visited the Jesus BoatMount of Beatitudes site, Church of the MultiplicationChurch of the Primacy of PeterCapernaumMount Precipice, and a drive through of the towns of Cana and Nazareth

The boat ride was absolutely beautiful.  My favorite part was when they played Chris Tomlin’s “How Great is Our God” while sailing on the very sea that Jesus walked on!

The traditional location that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount was breathtaking.  {The more likely specific location is on a steep incline.}

Capernaum was fascinating.  This town was Jesus’ home base during his ministry and hearing about it’s strategic location and seeing the ruins was pivotal.

If it wasn’t blazing hot, I could of stood on top of Mount Precipice for hours.  The view of many Biblical mountains, regions, towns, and the Jezreel Valley below was breathtaking.

Day Three:

We opted to have a free day rather than join in on some {extra} day trips.  This meant that we enjoyed a slower pace to our day which included a delicious lunch out with friends.

The highlight of the day was watching the sun rise and then set over the Sea of Galilee.  These pictures just do not do it justice.  Absolutely gorgeous views over the peaceful lake.  And yes, it is technically a lake and not a sea.  The locals call it Lake Kinneret.

Day Four:

We packed up and took the day to travel as a group to Jerusalem.  Some of the stops that were made along the way: Beit Shean, an ancient synagogue, Jericho, “Zacchaeus’ Sycamore Tree“, and the Jordan River.

The ruins at Beit Shean were absolutely incredible.  The history behind this town and learning about the culture was really intriguing.  The only downside: 100+ degree weather.

This day held a memory that will forever be etched in my mind.  My husband and I had the opportunity to be re-baptized in the Jordan River.  It was such an incredible experience and I am so glad that I overcame my nervousness about it and gave in to this once in lifetime opportunity.

Day Five:

The first full day in Jerusalem was jam packed.  We were able to experience 3,000 years of  history over the course of 10 hours.  We visited the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, Western Wall, Pools of Bethesda, Via Dolorosa, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  It was another bright sunny day and that left us dodging for any possible shade, but again, it was worth it.

The view of the Old City from the Mount of Olives was incredible.  In the foreground of this picture is a Jewish cemetery and you can see the Dome of the Rock in the center.  It hit me over and over again how much history is in one city and the various cultures and beliefs that reside within Jerusalem.

I am standing on the steps below the southern wall, where Jesus would often teach from.

The Western Wall {sometimes referred to as the Wailing Wall} was another experience that will be long etched in my mind.  Men and women have separate areas and I took a bit of time to just sit and observe and pray.  Women from all over the world were here.  Some lived just around the corner and came here to pray.  Some journeyed long distances to pray and read Scripture at the base of this incredible wall.

Day Six:

This was another “free day” for us as we did not opt in to the extra tours for the day.  We really enjoyed this day, just the two of us, doing what we wanted, when we wanted to do it.  Of course, we still toured and found our way around to visit: an open mall near our hotel, the southern ramparts walk, wandering around the Jewish quarter, finding the hidden gem of walking on top of homes and stores in the Jewish quarter, a pizza lunch near the Jaffa gate, time by the hotel pool, and a date night with dinner outside.

It was another bright beautiful day as we explored the southern rampart walk.  This walk took us atop the the Old City walls through the Armenian and Jewish quarters.  We opted for this one, as opposed to the northern rampart walk as we wanted to end up in the Jewish quarter.

The views from the ramparts were so unique. A bit of a birds-eye view. 

One of my most favorite parts of this day was just wandering around the Jewish quarter.  We just wanted to soak in the culture.  Taking the little quiet roads away from the market afforded some great pictures, as well as a glimpse of every day life for the Jews who live here.

Day Seven:

Guess what?  Another day to wander on our own!  We ventured out to see the Garden Tomb, the City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and the Herodian Water Channel.

The Garden Tomb site gives you a better feeling of what Jesus’ tomb may have actually looked like.  There is no definitive answer to the exact location of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.  I know, I may catch some flack for that statement.  But that’s okay with me.  I am not the type of person who needs to know the answer to where exactly everything took place.  {There is good solid evidence on all sides.}  But I have chosen to appreciate these sites for where they are and to know that it honestly does not matter.  Jesus came and walked among us, offered himself as a sacrifice, and because of that, I may enjoy eternity with Him.  That’s the beginning, middle, and end of the story and all that truly matters anyway.

Hezekiah’s Tunnel in the City of David was fascinating.  Honestly, I was a bit scared, but I knew that this was my only opportunity to experience it, so I jumped in and did it!

It was quite steep to walk down the stair case and since I am not a fan of heights, it took some mind over body will power.  I don’t have any pictures of us inside the tunnel as I forgot that I could use the flash on my phone.  Ugh!

Some tips: wear shoes that can get wet, roll up your shorts as the water can get high (at one point it was above my knees, but most of the time it was only ankle deep), don’t let the rushing water sound in the beginning scare you as it is only like that at that point, bring a flashlight or use your cell phone (don’t drop it though!), be ready to duck at any moment as the cave gets low and narrow, and have a sense of adventure!

Our last evening in Jerusalem was spectacular with an incredible view of the sun setting over the city and a magnificent dinner with the entire group.

Day Eight:

An early morning to pack-up, eat breakfast, and head out on a Bethlehem tour.  Before visiting Israel, I didn’t quite understand all of the political unrest and the geography.  This trip confirms that I am a kinesthetic learner.  In other words, I learn by doing and experiencing.  Being in Israel helped me to really see where Bethlehem is located, in the West Bank, also known as Palestine.  Since we used a tour service, we easily entered and exited the West Bank.

Before arriving at the border, this is the sign that was for all to see and written in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

Our first stop was at a shepherd’s field, which gave us an idea of the geography of the land at Jesus’ time.

We waited on line (and were cut in line many many times) for a while until the time that the Church of the Nativity grotto would be open.  This is the traditional site of the birth of Jesus.  The entire grotto is covered, except for this 14 point star which encircles the only original remaining exposed rock.  The 14 stars represent the three segments of Jewish history, with 14 generations in between each.

After lunch with our group in Jerusalem, we all departed for Tel Aviv/Jaffa for some exploring, dinner, and then to catch our red-eye flights home.

Jaffa was such a charming and sweet town that to me, captured the essence of towns along the Mediterranean Sea.  This was a gloriously sunny {and humid} day, but we soaked in these few hours nonetheless.

My toes touching the Mediterranean Sea for the very first time!  Just a little tease to make me want to visit these waters again…hint, hint to the hubby!

Well, that’s it.  The shortened version.  I could talk your ear off for hours, but you’ll have to come over for that kind of gab session.

If you have any specific questions, please leave them below and I will definitely answer them for you!

Leigh

3 Comments

  1. Wow what an incredible trip! Your pictures were gorgeous and my favorite was you being re-baptized in The Jordan! My parents went to Israel earlier this year and now I must say it is on my bucket list! To walk where Jesus walked must be life changing! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Ruthie Bush

    I love your feed and loved following you on your trip to Israel!

    Unfortunately I do not live in a farmhouse, but a fixer-upper in suburbia…with a farmhouse interior!! Your style and comments are always inspiring!

    My husband and I had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land in May! Absolutely the trip of a lifetime!! I was so excited for you every minute you were there!

    As a mother of eight, it was hard to decide to go. I almost talked us out of it twice!! So glad we trusted in God to keep us and our family safe… you too!!

    Thanks for being awesome and sharing with me and your other IG friends!

    ~Ruthie

    1. Leigh

      Ruthie,
      Thank you for your sweet comment! Sorry for my delay in replying…sick kid and VBS week!
      Hey, farmhouse is a state of living…no matter what neighborhood! 😉
      You were just in Israel then? Wow! Are you still processing your trip like I am!
      8 kiddos? You are amazing…and so blessed! ♥
      Have an absolutely wonderful day and stop by often!
      xo

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